The Honde Valley is a mountainous are on the eastern border of Rhodesia adjacent to Mozambique. It gets its name from the Honde River which has its source in the Odzani Hills north of Umtali and flows in a north easterly direction into Mozambique and on to the Indian Ocean. The area is densely populated and the people of the area are closely related to their kinsfolk in the opposite area of Mozambique. The area is very important for the economy of the country as it is the primary agricultural area for the growing of tea and tropical fruit.
The first terrorist incidents took place in March and April of 1976 but they did not initially receive much support until they started to use violent terror tactics to intimidate the people. Several locals had been murdered and the chief’s authority dominated by fear by the terrorists. The initial effort by the terrorists was to break down any government control using intimidation and for this reason Intaf was the primary target. Schools, cattle dip tanks and land extension officers were attacked. By now the security forces were stretched to crisis point and the deployment of the army had become a juggling act so as to place the limited resources in the most threatened areas.
The Rhodesian government became reactive as the terrorists had the initiative. The terrorists then started to attack the tea estates to the north of the Honde Valley and 27 were massacred in late December 1976. Once this incident had taken effect in intimidating the locals the terrorists then consolidated their own alternative administration establishing clinics and indoctrination centres (which they called “schools”). The high level of intimidation was a deciding factor in the decision by the government to establish a series of Protected Villages (PVs) in an effort to separate the terrorists from the population. This exercise commenced at the end of 1976. Immediately the terrorists threatened the locals with their lives if they voluntarily moved into the PVs. Curfews were introduced to try and prevent any movement at night.
As this state of affairs continued the local population were caught between the demands of the terrorists to act as suppliers of food and home comforts as well as to act as porters to carry war material from Mozambique into Rhodesia as part of their logistical supply line. The security forces deployed patrols by day and night and set up ambushes to restrict the movement of the terrorists and deplete their numbers. By March 1977 the PVs had been planned and construction begun to such an extent that the people were now moved into the PVs as designated by Intaf.
The PVs were a success as Intaf made sure that schools were established within them. Health clinics were also opened inside of the PVs and water was laid on for the residents. Within a short space of time the local population were back to a semblance of normality. Agricultural advisers assisted with the day to day activities of subsistence farming as well as growing tea, coffee, ground nuts and cotton. Those people who had fled to the cities or to Mozambique in search of safety heard that the project was a success and began to return to the PVs which had now replaced their homes. Not one civilian had been killed, injured or had been intimidated since their move into the PVs.
The requirement to deny the terrorist’s access to the people meant that the terrorists were forced to rethink their strategy and they then started to use other infiltration routes into the country to try and sustain their campaign. The effect of this was that to begin with the number of contacts between security forces and terrorists was approximately two per day and at the end only one a month.
DC Alex Bundock replaced DC Hamish Peters when Hamish was transferred from Mutasa after doing an excellent job of getting the district under control. This photo shows DC Alex Bundock seated central wiht some of his staff